The U.S. Forest Service is closing several rock faces in western North Carolina to recreational activities, including rock climbing, to protect the rare peregrine falcons that nest there. This closure is effective through August 15, 2023. Peregrine falcons mate for life and return to the same site each year to nest. If the pair is disturbed, they will leave the site and may not nest again until the following year.
Activities that are prohibited to reduce disturbance to nesting and fledgling falcons includes rock climbing, rappelling, ice climbing, bouldering, hang gliding, and slacklining. Drone use on the rock faces themselves and flying drones in the vicinity of the rock faces and within posted areas is also prohibited. Overnight camping within posted areas is not allowed. Through-hiking on designated trails is permitted within the posted boundaries but hikers should not approach the rock faces listed in the table below.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) monitors nesting sites with the help of volunteers. In 2022 across western North Carolina, 14 sites were occupied by peregrine falcon pairs and seven successfully reproduced with a total of 15 offspring. Two additional sites were occupied by a single, unpaired bird.
Closures include areas of Pickens Nose (East Face), and Whiteside Mountain in the Nantahala Ranger District and Victory Wall, Looking Glass Rock (North Face), and North Cedar Rock (Wall of Northern Aggression) in the Pisgah Ranger District.
To view the closure order and maps of closure areas Click Here
Avoid activities at the rock cliffs in the following areas when they are posted closed: